A Culture of Cheating

Cheaters Never Win, Winners Never Cheat

When you were growing up, how did you know cheating was a bad thing, and thus you don’t do it? Or did you?

Reading the headlines in recent years, it’s becoming clear that if parents and grandparents know it to be true, then they certainly are not passing on the message to the next generation.

2009, Georgia: Then-Gov. Sonny Perdue orders an investigation into Atlanta high schools with the revelation that students had markedly improved their scores in Georgia’s standardized Criterion Referenced-Competency Test. The 2011 completed investigation found 44 schools troubled with “organized and systemic misconduct” roping in about 180 employees, including 38 principals. In 2013, a dozen of “educators” were indicted and tried, including a principal and five teachers.

2014, Orange County, Calif.: Eleven students are expelled from the high-achieving, upper-class Corona Del Mar High School. It had a 2013 track record of 99 percent of its 398 students continuing on to colleges, with the majority being four-year universities. A private tutor provided them with an electronic device to access and change grades for English, math and history. As of March 2015, tutor Timothy Lance Lai, 29, faces 21 criminal counts and 16-plus years in prison.

May 2014, Philadelphia: An ongoing grand jury investigation finds four teachers and a principal changed students’ test scores, gave pre-test reviews to students and promoted cheating in general, in prior years. The grand jury found: (a) once the cheating stopped in 2012, “Fifth-grade reading proficiency fell from 50 percent to 16 percent and math proficiency from 62 percent to 22 percent;” and (b) “Significant pressures existed for the various schools to increase PSSA performance. When PSSA scores went up, school principals received promotions and accolades. Others avoided demotions and terminations.”

April 2015, Georgia: Multiple public school “educators” are going to prison for their unrepentant cheating deeds.

In October 2012, The Huffington Post published an article on the rampant cheating scandals of such elite schools as the prestigious Air Force Academy, Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School and the revered Harvard University.

There’s so much more, including Louisiana and Nevada. More significantly, this list of cheating involves grades and tests; the scandals involving cheating in sports would be another commentary.

The true irony of Harvard University’s scandal of 2012 can’t be missed.

February 2013: Boston.com reports Harvard’s College Board has investigated about 125 students. One-half were told to leave school – a punishment not too severe; just for one year and retroactive back to the prior September. Another 25 percent would receive disciplinary probation, and the balance had their cases dismissed. This particular cheating scandal involved the final exam of one class—one subject.

The New York Times reported in September 2013 that the scandal involved 279 students with about 70 asked to leave the school.

Dr. Matthew B. Platt, an assistant professor of government, led the subject class. Participating were 11 teaching fellows plus graduate students. The class was reputedly an “easy” one especially with Dr. Platt telling students attendance was unimportant “he gave many A’s.”

The upper echelon of the faculty must have wised up, because students started noticing tougher exam contents and grading, but that apparently didn’t stretch to the course’s final exam.

It was a take-home exam with students being allowed to use the Internet, books and notes – but they were forbidden discussions with other students. A first question was: How would he know if the students were personally interacting? As it turned out, these Harvard University students were not too bright, after all.

Upon grading the exams, it was reported that “Platt found strong similarities among some of them, even verbatim repetition, down to the same typographical errors.”

Platt has never spoken publicly about the topic, but the class has not been on the curriculum since spring 2012.

The Times also reported that many of the students had hired lawyers.

By the way – the class that brought this about was “Government 1310: Introduction to Congress.”

Photo credit Someecards

Betty Arenson

Betty Arenson

Betty Arenson is a Valencia resident who believes in the Constitution in its entirety and that laws should be upheld and apply to everyone equally.

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